Politics and civics Tech & society

Ballot selfies: are they legal where you live?

Ballot selfies (balloties) are legal (at least for mail-in ballots) or tacitly allowed, in 28 states and the District of Columbia. The practice is illegal or unclear in 22 states.

This election has seen a rise in posting photos of a completed ballot (ballot selfies, sometimes called balloties). This practice is legal (at least for mail-in ballots) or tacitly allowed in 28 states and the District of Columbia. It is illegal or unclear in 22 states.

The headlines started dribbling in two years ago:


Lots of folks take photos of themselves mailing (or dropping off) their ballot, which is not controversial.


But in many states, taking a photo of your ballot is illegal. The secret ballot is grounded in political corruption of the late 19th century.

In September, a federal appeals court overturned a 2014 law in New Hampshire that made ballot selfies illegal. (So the tweet, above, is only half correct. PSA – do not trust without sources and/or verification!)

Snapchat is among the groups pushing for an end to the bans, calling ballot selfies an important way for young voters to “participate in the political process and make their voices heard.”

Also championing selfies, the ACLU:

Putting a voting booth selfie on the Internet “is a powerful form of political speech that conveys various constitutionally protected messages that have no relationship to vote buying or voter coercion,” says Gilles Bissonnette of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire, representing the challengers.

The decision from the three-panel federal court was unanimous, stating that it would “suppress a broad swath of speech protected by the core of the First Amendment.”

Some states prohibit photography in polling places (kinda makes sense) but allow photos of mail-in ballots.

And no, Tennessee is not going after Justin Timberlake!

But election officials in some states are still going to the courts:


States where it is legal to share a photo of your marked ballot

Legal or mixed

  1. Arizona [13 September]
  2. California : Governor Brown has signed a bill that repeals the 125-year-old law making it illegal to show a marked ballot. Although it does not go into effect until after November 8, analysts do not anticipate anyone being arrested for ballot selfies.
  3. Connecticut [24 October]
  4. Delaware [13 September]
  5. District of Columbia  [23 October]
  6. Hawaii [2016 bill]
  7. Idaho [23 October]
  8. Indiana [13 September]
  9. Iowa [illegal in polling booths; mail in ballots ok, 23 October]
  10. Kentucky [treated as though legal, 24 October]
  11. Louisiana [19 October]
  12. Maine [13 September]
  13. Maryland [illegal in polling booth, mail-in ballots ok; 25 October]
  14. Michigan  [25 October] “Michigan’s ban on showing a completed ballot [had] been in place since 1891 when ballots were first printed by county election officials instead of political parties.”
  15. Minnesota [conditional, 23 October]
  16. Montana [not illegal but disruptive activity prohibited, 23 October]
  17. Nebraska [bill proposed in January, 23 October]
  18. New Hampshire [n.d.]
  19. North Dakota [13 September]
  20. Oregon [13 September]
  21. Pennsylvania [illegal but guidance document says OK, 23 October]
  22. Rhode Island [July regulatory change, 23 October]
  23. Texas [illegal at the polls, mail-in ballots ok, 25 October]
  24. Utah [13 September]
  25. Vermont [23 October]
  26. Virginia [25 October]
  27. Washington [23 October]
  28. West Virginia [illegal in polling booth, 26 April; mail-in ballots ok, 23 October]
  29. Wyoming [13 September]


Illegal or unclear

  1. Alabama [illegal, 23 October]
  2. Alaska [illegal, 23 October]
  3. Arkansas [24 October, unclear]
  4. Colorado  [illegal, 23 October – lawsuit challenge, 24 October]
  5. Florida [illegal, 23 October]
  6. Georgia  [illegal, 23 October]
  7. Illinois [illegal, 23 October]
  8. Kansas  [illegal, 23 October]
  9. Massachusetts [illegal, 14 September]
  10. Mississippi [illegal, 25 October]
  11. Missouri [illegal, 25 October]
  12. Nevada [illegal, 23 October]
  13. New Jersey [illegal, 23 October]
  14. New Mexico [illegal, 23 October]
  15. New York [illegal, 23 October]
  16. North Carolina [illegal, 23 October]
  17. Ohio [illegal with local election official discretion, 24 October]
  18. Oklahoma [illegal but no penalties, 24 October]
  19. South Carolina [illegal, 23 October]
  20. South Dakota [illegal, 23 October]
  21. Tennessee [illegal in polling places, mail-in ballots unclear, 23 October]
  22. Wisconsin [illegal, 23 October]



Featured image: ACLU Tweet

By Kathy E. Gill

Digital evangelist, speaker, writer, educator. Transplanted Southerner; teach newbies to ride motorcycles! @kegill

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